Since many are projecting a great season for the 2018 Mountaineers, it seems only fitting to look back on some of the best wins under WVU Head Coach Dana Holgorsen.
5. West Virginia 17, Kansas State 16 (2016)
In the West Virginia’s fifth season as a member of the Big 12, the Mountaineers opened conference play against a team they had yet to beat. Trailing 16-3 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, it appeared that WVU was headed toward its fifth consecutive loss to the Wildcats. However, after some impressive 4th quarter play from the offense, WVU found itself leading 17-16. It took a missed field goal from the Wildcats, but WVU found their first win against Bill Snyder and K State.
4. West Virginia 30, No. 11 Oklahoma State 21 (2013)
Although the 2013 season is one that many Mountaineer fans would like to forget, it did have a few bright spots. On the heels of West Virginia’s first shutout loss in 11 years, a conference bout with Oklahoma State was not a game that not many expected the Mountaineers to win. In Clint Trickett’s first start in Morgantown, the Mountaineers were able to overcome the mistake-prone Cowboys, severely denting their chances at a BCS bowl.
3. West Virginia 43, Arizona State 42 (2015 Cactus Bowl)
While WVU had made it to two bowl games in its first three years in the Big 12, they had yet to win one. The first W finally came against Arizona State in the Cactus Bowl. The back-and-forth game that went well past midnight on the east coast was extremely entertaining — WVU fans witnessed quarterback Skyler Howard set a Cactus bowl record with 532 yards and five touchdowns. An unheralded guy named David Sills caught the game-winning touchdown.
2. West Virginia 70, No. 25 Baylor 63 (2012)
West Virginia entered its first game game as a member of the Big 12 ranked at No. 9 in the nation. In the school’s first game with Baylor, WVU was trying to prove to the world that they belonged. In one of the most prolific games of his career, Geno Smith completed 88 percent of his passes for over 650 yards and a Big 12 record eight touchdowns. With spectacular performances from Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, WVU showed that they were prepared to compete in a new conference.
1. West Virginia 70, Clemson 33 (2012 Orange Bowl)
The Orange Bowl win over Clemson is one of the best wins under Coach Holgorsen, but it’s also one of the best in the program history. In a year filled with drama, which included the hiring of Holgorsen and WVU’s announced departure from the dying Big East, not many were expecting a Mountaineer win. The game remained close into the second quarter, when Clemson fumbled the ball during an End Zone pile, and Darwin Cook returned the ball 99 yards for a touchdown. The defensive score put the Mountaineers up 28-17, and the rout was on from there.
West Virginia never looked back. The Mountaineers set numerous bowl records on their way to a 70-33 victory over the 14th-ranked Tigers. The victory put WVU in elite company, as it was only the eighth program to win three BCS bowl games.
A few honorable mentions:
West Virginia 21, Pitt 20 (2011) — WVU wins the final Backyard Brawl as a member of the Big East.
West Virginia 41, Baylor 27 (2014) — Unranked WVU upsets No. 4 Baylor in convincing fashion.
West Virginia 48, No. 11 Texas 45 (2012) — In its second Big 12 game, WVU knocks off a second straight top 25 opponent. The University Texas sets an attendance record.